Saab has carried out the first test flight of its new ESTL self-protection system onboard a Gripen multi-role combat aircraft at an undisclosed location.

ESTL is an advanced missile approach warning system (MAW) designed to safeguard any type of fixed-wing aircraft against existing and future radio frequency (RF) and infrared (IR) threats.

The system can be installed on a mission-to-mission basis.

Saab Electronic Warfare Systems Business Unit head Carl-Johan Bergholm said ESTL provides enhanced survivability in combat and conflict situations, and includes a module of forward firing flares.

"This, together with the missile approach warning sensors and an optional chaff capability, makes ESTL a powerful shield against the latest missile developments," Bergholm said.

"This successful first flight is an important step for the ESTL project and we look forward to continuing test flights and increased customer interest in many countries worldwide."

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Capable of providing covert sustainable pre-emptive dispensing, missile warning, forward firing of flares and cocktail dispensing, the pod can be modified for different threat scenarios, depending on mission profile.

"ESTL is an advanced missile approach warning system designed to safeguard fixed-wing aircraft against radio frequency and infra-red threats."

The pod has a standard AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) interface, which allows for sharing of ESTL units among the aircraft of an entire fleet.

Called BOH during the development phase, the pod brings together several components from Saab’s countermeasures portfolio, including BOL and BOP dispensers, integrated defensive aids system (IDAS) system as well as the defensive aids control unit.

Weighing approximately the same as an AIM-9 missile, ESTL can be installed onto existing missile launchers, and has a high level of modularity for ease of maintenance and cross platform availability.

Image: Saab carried out the first test flight of the new ESTL self-protection system using Gripen fighter. Photo: courtesy of Saab AB.

Defence Technology